But the threat of sanctions also matters enormously. In the space of two weeks in early March, Taipei municipal government sanctioned 70 individuals for violating quarantine regulations, with dissuasive fines up to 1 million NT$ (29 871€). And the “Special Act on Covid-19 Prevention, Relief and Restoration” (嚴重特殊傳染性肺炎防治及紓困振興特別條例) allows the government to film and photograph people who break quarantine and publish their personal information – a naming and shaming approach. However, sanctions is not the only aspect of the quarantine policy. The Taiwanese government has promulgated legislation to compensate quarantined individuals when they have to take care of children under 12 – the compensation is of NT$1,000 (US$33.35) per day.
In sum, strict quarantine of risky individuals, rather than confinement or testing, is the cornerstone of Taiwan’s crisis management. This has allowed the Taiwanese government to focus testing on individuals showing Covid-19 symptoms. Backed by precise data access and prohibitive sanctions, complemented by travel bans and proactive screening, the strict approach to quarantine has so far allowed Taiwan to contain the contagion.
Taiwanese hospitals have thus been able to anticipate and focus on best managing patient flows, in order to guarantee the isolation of Covid-19 infected patients in the event of a sudden case increase. The country has a limited number of beds in isolation negative pressure wards (943) but government officials have announced that the reconfiguration of wards and use of single-bed rooms was possible to build isolation capacity if necessary. The Executive Branch has also adopted a special budget to address the cost of crisis management, including the longer term cost on economic activity, when enacting Special Act on Covid-19 Prevention, Relief and Restoration (嚴重特殊傳染性肺炎防治及紓困振興特別條例), which includes a stimulus package of maximum NT$60 billion (US$1.97 billion).
All in all, despite a population of 23,78 million, Taiwan has managed to focus on individual cases and their entourage and to craft a policy response based on precise situation awareness to preempt contagion, relying on digital technologies to monitor, inform and impose sanctions against socially dangerous behavior.